tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC September 23, 2014 11:00pm-12:01am PDT
>> we'll have more opportunities i'm sure. >> we will have more with bob costas tomorrow on our website thelastword.msnbc.com. allies. let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews in war time washington. we're at war right now. the united states is hitting syria with bombers, fighter planes and tomahawk missiles with two air strikes today. five arab countries are joining in the war against isis. the al qaeda faction threatens to put bombs on u.s. or european airliners. tonight we hit the isis battle from all angles, starting with the creation of the alliance
with the united states, jordan, saudi arabia, united arab emirates and qatar. who did this job of pulling these countries together, and how did they keep it secret? it's the best kept plan since our killing of osama bin laden. my question tonight, will this alliance sell in the arab world? will it convince arabs, that it's them, not just the united states going after isis, the terrorists? will this new alliance sell with the anti-war forces in america? are people like me going to buy it? we'll get to these questions and some others like the danger isis and this al qaeda group khorasan pose to us here in the u.s. also why it's so easy for someone dangerous to go, as you see now, charging into the white house itself. we're going to have a great "hardball" round table for the second half of the show. jonathan capehart, michelle bernard all joining us. the pentagon said today last night's air strikes were very successful. among the targets, isis training camps, head quarters and command
and control facilities. the u.s. military released some remarkable video showing several strikes against isis, like this strike on a vehicle staging area. another video shows a strike by a u.s. aircraft to a storage facility used by isis. and yet another one shows a u.s. air strike on the isis compound near the group's headquarters in northern syria. the scope of the strikes caught some by surprise, referring to the initial strikes of the iraq war. one u.s. official said about last night's campaign, it is shock without the awe. today president obama praised the military's effort, but cautioned this fight won't be short or easy. >> last night on my orders, american forces began strikes against isil targets in syria. the effort will take time, there will be challenges ahead, but we'll do what's necessary to take this fight to the terrorist group. for the security of the country,
the region, and the entire world. >> a spokesman gave a positive assessment of the air strikes last night. >> we think we were very effective last night. we're still assessing the results of the strike, but every indication is that we hit and our partners hit exactly what we were aiming at and that we have severely damaged their ability to sustain themselves and to command and control their own forces. >> chuck todd's, moderator of "meet the press." andrea mitchell joins us, also host of the andrea mitchell reports. and michael leiter is the former director of the national counterterrorism center. first, i want to start with chuck. the white house role, this is like osama bin laden getting killed, we didn't think it was coming, then a big splash. >> not only that, doing it when they did it, the day before the
president's going to new york, the united nations. this is to start essentially dropping a bomb on the seventh different nation that this president has bombed or ordered an air strike on at some point. 24 hours before the start of the u.n. general assembly. it's not something that people would have pictured a barack obama doing seven or eight years ago. i think this was a way for the president to send a message to the arab allies, that he has resolve on this. anybody questioning his resolve, and that's happened politically in this country, but it's been happening overseas, i think in many ways, the timing of this, whether it feels as if this was meant to say, not only, let's go, the allies are there, but not a bad way to start the u.n. meeting, which i think some people would have thought even a week ago that's not something this president would have done. >> starting a war is hardly the stuff of a nobel prize winner, but there's diplomacy at the heart of this thing. what do you think about john kerry's ability to round up people to fight the fight against isis?
>> there have been a lot of skeptics about john kerry's trips around the world and back and the miles that he's logged. but he has very methodically in advance of the president's speech, gone from one country to the next and had a very unusual meeting with the saudis and with a group of nations. that's how he put the pieces together. king abdullah of saudi arabia was critical to this effort and frankly the king and the kingdom have not been at all supportive of barack obama. not since a year ago when they feel he blinked and didn't go after assad on chemical weapons, when he announced a red line and didn't follow through. so they had to be persuaded that the president was serious. and kerry was the man to do it because they knew him for years, from the senate foreign relations committee and for all that kerry sometimes suffers from the white house very
close-knit inner circle of the national security council staff. he does have these relationships one-on-one. and he built it piece by piece, block by block, very quietly and very effectively, and without broadcasting it to the public. >> well done. you're sitting on the ground, you're baghdadi, and you're watching all kinds of bombs coming down. fighter planes attacking you, tomahawk missiles. and you hear on the radio, or voice of america, you realize they have arab allies, is that scaring you or not? >> not yet. because he's saying, we went through this before, in iraq in 2006 whether it was al qaeda in iraq. they don't have the staying power. so to start, you're not scared. you're taking some hits, but the question is, does the united states have the staying power? he's telling his guys, this is okay. right now, we're going to get more recruits. people are going to come to our aid. we're going to mobilize people overseas who weren't even with us. so that's the key for him. he's saying the united states doesn't have staying power.
now the test will be, as this gets harder for us, because it will become harder to find them and kill them, how does it go? >> well, i'm asking you. is the united states stuck in this war now? we can't walk away in three months, saying we tried to get rid of isis, we can't, right? >> he's gone through the door. >> he's in it. >> he's in it. syria is a pandora's box. >> so the people of isil are wrong -- >> they're wrong. once you're in, i don't know how you extract yourself. even if you wanted to, i don't think how you would. you train the moderate free syrian army. if they fail, do you walk away? no, i don't think at this point you walk away. >> andrea, you're an expert at this. it's interesting or sad that all of our allies are not democratic.
king abdullah of jordan, and then you go around, and they're all trying to hold on to their thrones. >> this is not the arab spring. these are the arab militaries and there's qatar who helped fund the qataris, the radical groups that were the precursor to isis. that's why the united arab emirates and others and the saudis are so unhappy with qatar right now. but we embrace qatar because they have a brace. they do things for us. we need them more than they need us. >> are they speaking, as the old cowboy movies would say, are they helping us with this, but also arming isis or funding them? >> ask michael leiter, the counter terrorism guy. >> she threw it to you.
>> the two most important parties that came on board, the saudis, so much power and so much money. and the qataris, the reason the qataris getting on board is so critical, because it's a sign they were not going to play both sides. if they were passive, they would say, yeah, we support you, the money might still be flowing. they're active participants -- >> what changed them? why are they with us now? >> i think what changed them, isis was out of control and that's a threat to all of them. >> certainly the geography, if everybody around them is in this coalition, bahrain, saudi arabia, they can't be the lone -- >> i want all three of you to weigh in here. everybody tries to figure out the other side, like any contest, especially if war. what are they up to? when they started beheading our people, didn't they know they were urging us into that war, that we had to fight that war out of pride? and if so, do they wear us down
or do they want to bring us in? >> what former colleagues will tell you, the beheadings were an attempt to recruit. >> exactly. >> they were an attempt to flex their muscle and say we're the new guys in town. don't go with al qaeda, we're the ones putting this together. look, i think they were questioning u.s. resolve for quite a bit of time. >> were they pulling us in, or push us out? >> they were flying the flag, saying we are the true jihadis. >> were they aiming those beheadings at us to drag us into war or to recruit fellow islamists? >> i think both. i think it's exactly right, this was a great recruiting tool for them and their battlefield successes in iraq, when the iraqi army folded and they took city after city. mosul, fallujah and so hard fought for and losing those gains. but let me suggest there are
some real problems with this military plan and the generals would be the first to tell you. they had recommended boots on the ground. we don't have enough spotters. we don't have people on the ground in syria. that's one of the reasons why we didn't go in. general dempsey testified it would take up to a year to train 5,000 untested syrian fighters. so when the generals come back, sin com comes back and says, we need boots on thea ground. and he says they'll be regional boots, who will they be? [ all speak at once ] >> as you pointed out today, who was it? you were on earlier today, you made a really good point. you said that you had to have reports or you don't know who you hit. that was really smart. >> putting all our chips with the free syrian army, how did that iraqi army that we spent years, over a decade training and funding and the first sign,
the first time they had to do a fight without the united states, we saw what happened. and we think this free syrian army is going to somehow in a year or two years? this is the part of the military plan -- >> we got to put it together. the ground and the air at the same time. >> air power is great when you have fixed targets and they're not quite ready. as they get away from that, as they go into the city, it gets harder and harder. >> i think when you get to block by block fighting, you can't bomb everybody or you'll have nothing but enemies. great show today on your part today. >> thank you. coming up, we're hitting the war from every corner. next the politics of selling it at home. president obama didn't expect to be a war president. in fact, he is now. needs support from left, right and center, especially left. and getting by the left may be his biggest challenge. plus richard engel on the arab response and where the arab street supports the arab leaders, all of them monarchies who have also joined in the u.s. air strikes against isis.
british prime minister david cameron spoke to nbc news about the air strikes on isis in syria, saying this say group which poses serious threat to every country in the world. >> there's no doubt in my mind, it has already undertaken and is planning further plots in europe and elsewhere, specifically in belgium, brussels. it was an isis plot that went into a jewish museum and killed entirely innocent people. and there are other plots they have been attempting including in my own country, in order to kill and maim innocent people, and the same applies to the united states of america. so this is a fight you cannot opt out of. these people want to kill us.
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let's broaden the world's energy mix, let's go. our initial indication is that these strikes were very successful. second, while it's not our policy to discuss future operations, i can tell you that last night's strikes were only the beginning. >> only the beginning. welcome back to "hardball." that was the pentagon press secretary. and more now on today's big story and our commander in chief who finds himself leading a war that's only just begun. president obama is now a war-time president, a remarkable change from the dove we elected, the nobel peace prize winner. president roosevelt welcomed the transition from peacetime to war time, telling the press he was going to change to what he had to be.
the big question, will this president embrace his war-time role? and will the country rally behind him? michael steele, the former rnc, and the former dnc chair and former governor of pennsylvania also joining us. one of my most famous quotes, to roosevelt, he's lying on the ground in hong kong, barely hearing the words of roosevelt declare the war, and he said, i knew we'd win the war because i heard roosevelt talking. is obama capable of that? >> i don't know. and that's the question a lot of americans have on their mind, particularly after watching americans being beheaded on television, they appreciate the president's wednesday night talk where he came to us and laid out the next steps. but now the question is, are you ready to really lead us on this adventure? such as it is. and the fact that he's taking stuff off the table. he's still leaving stuff off the table, boots on the ground, gives people pause.
you don't get to dictate the terms here. isis, our partners in the middle east, there are a lot of players the table. you can't afford to leave things off if you take seriously the obligation to be the commander in chief. >> can he be a leader that's convincing as a war-time leader, kill the enemy, take them down and be triumphant? >> well, chris, i think he did a wonderful job deflecting any significant criticism from the democratic left by building that stealth coalition. i think people are shaking their heads and saying great job, mr. president. we actually have arab nations dropping bombs on arab terrorists. that's a significant victory which i think ameliorates a lot of criticism on the left. i think he's already set the table for good leadership. i think he and secretary kerry deserve a tremendous amount of credit for putting this coalition together. not just a coalition that's
cheering for us. a coalition that actually dropped some bombs. i think it was very impressive and i think he's off to a great start. >> governor, do you think this coalition is more incredible than the one w. had? w. would always talk about coalition forces, the polish or the portuguese. it was a strange team he threw together, a motley crue, you might say. but do you think it's critical arabs are on our side now? >> it's enormously important. they're not just arabs willing to finance the war -- that never happened in desert storm despite we were promised. but these are arabs willing to do combat missions. i expect you'll see a significant rallying around the president in the united nations because he was able to build this arab coalition. i think he's done a great job. >> i think so too. but a war of choice, a war of necessity. how do you argue this isn't a war of necessity? how could we let them go behead
our people? >> that's the point, you can't argue -- >> isn't that a case for people following him into war because he had to? >> he had no choice. he was thrust into this fight. and now the question, i appreciate where the governor's coming from, but, yeah, arabs dropping bombs is not the same as boots on the ground. will arab boots be on the ground? you're talking about, you have our defense department telling us it's going to take a year to train 5,000 syrian fighters to deal with the fight in syria. well, do we have that long? what happens in the interim? so there are a whole lot of pieces that need to get filled in. i applaud the president's determination to move in agenda forward and bring together the appropriate coalition. but i still have a problem with the idea that you're absolutely taking americans boots off the table and that's something we need to know, honestly, will there at some point be required? and the president has refused to answer that.
>> it's interesting, some of the president's usual critics are in line with him now, including the hawks in the republican party. they're rallying behind him. u.s. congressman peter king from new york tweeted all americans must stand with president obama in our war against isis, particularly tonight's air strikes in syria. that's from peter king. he also went on fox news to sound the war cry. here he is. >> i think it's important for all americans to support the president. i think it's really important for all of us to come together. whatever happened in the past, that's behind us. it's important now as americans that we go forward, support the president, and urge him to continue this to make sure these attacks continue and go on until isis has been devastated. >> i think he's a gut nationalist like i am, although we disagree on policies sometimes. a lot of times. speaker john boehner said, i support the air strikes launched by the president. senator lindsey graham voiced his support. graham said he told vice president biden he was very supportive of the administration's move.
so what do you make of that, michael? your crowd is moving around, moving into backing up the president, the hawks, the amigos, i'm waiting for mccain to jump aboard. >> and they should. the president has put us on a war footing. >> is he joining them, or are they joining him? >> they've come to his position on the chessboard and they're supporting him and giving him all that he needs. but what they've given him so far is limited. before they left town, they took this little bit of vote that says, okay, we'll authorize you through december. what happens come january? and the fact that the congress has not dealt with this by publicly debating this, involving the american people in this national discussion is a little bit shameful. i appreciate getting behind the president but they have a role here to play as well, and the congress cannot stay away from that obligation long enough. >> i think to respond to something from chris van hollen. he said the members should come back and vote on the use of
military force for the current mission, but also says in the bill no ground troops, no iraq war two. so there's a smart democrat from the suburbs who is saying, we're going to war, we're going to get the bad guys, but we're not going in on the ground, all in one resolution, doesn't that make michael's point that we're half-hearted here? >> well, sure it does. and the house literally slinked out of town and abdicated their important duty. i saw a democratic congressman complain that the president didn't have the authority. if you wanted to give him the authority, stick around, guys. stick around. [ laughter ] >> it comes with ill grace to criticize when you're back home. but i think the president again has tied congress's hands. once he got this coalition together, we're going to send a message to the arabs who put their rear ends on the line, that we're not going to authorize going to war. of course not. >> the congress wants to lead from behind on this baby.
anyway, michael steel, sir, both chairman of the party at different times. up next, richard engel is in turkey right now with a report on the response from the middle east to what the president has been doing. we may have support from some arab countries. how about the arab street? are they with the kings and monarchs? this is "hardball," the place for politics. my daughter is studying to be a dentist, and she gave me advice. she said, "dad, go pro with crest pro-health." [ male announcer ] 4 out of 5 dentists confirmed these pro-health products
welcome back to "hardball." that massive air campaign just begun in syria represents the first major military operation with our arab partners in the region, which include saudi arabia, the united arab emirates, jordan, bahrain, and qatar. the president has stressed the importance of the regional allies in this fight. and while the formation of the u.s.-arab coalition is a significant diplomatic achievement, we're still dealing with a part of the world that views our country with deep hostility and suspicion. quote, the new air campaign in syria has drawn mixed reaction
across the middle east, a region where many people hate the brutality of the islamic state but are also deeply skeptical of the motives behind any type of foreign intervention, looming over the new campaign are memories of recent american-led interventions in libya and iraq which many arabs welcomed at first but later turned against. >> is the arab street aboard this alliance? >> reporter: i think the "new york times" had it right. there are mixed reactions. the arab governments, some of them are taking part in this because they see a direct threat to their own existence. isis already broke out of syria, charged into iraq, and has now managed to carve out a safe haven for itself and it's continuing to expand, continuing to take territory.
so countries like jordan, saudi arabia, qatar worry that if it expanded once already, it could expand into their countries. but on the street, there are a lot of people skeptical of the united states. they see once again the united states leading a coalition against a muslim country. once again, american drones and aircraft, b 52s, tomahawk missiles dropping bombs in villages in the muslim world. even if they oppose isis, there are a lot of people in this part of the world who can never support that kind of u.s.-led action. >> tell us about this group khorasan, which apparently is threatening to hit us in united states or in europe with some kind of bombs on airplanes which gets to a lot of us who fly a lot. tell me about that group. i never heard of them before. >> reporter: well, i think the u.s. administration is focusing on this group because, according
to intelligence officials, it is a dangerous group. it was working with other militants, other al qaeda militants to develop bomb-making techniques, targeting specifically the airline industry. but it is not the only group inside syria that wants to attack the united states. i think the u.s. chose this group because it felt it was a more or less imminent threat and it could -- it could address critics who said that isis is strictly a local group and that we should walk away. here the administration can say, here's a group that clearly wants to target something that americans use every single day. but when you start wading deeper into the swamp that syria has become over the last three years, you're going to find the nusra front, with many different factions that is as direct al qaeda group, that is probably just as dangerous as isis, if
not even more dangerous, because now you're going to see a strategic rivalry. if you bomb isis and you bomb khorasan, then potentially you're strengthening nusra, which is an alternative group. so do you have to bomb them all? and i think the u.s. as it goes deeper into this is going to find it very difficult to differentiate between all of these various militant groups and then to try to postulate of what their intentions might be? i'm skeptical when people say isis only wants to attack locally and this other group wants to attack planes, and this third group, they want to attack europe. you're looking at groups from 10,000 feet with bad intelligence. i think it's difficult to know what their intentions truly are. >> great to have you on tonight, richard. thanks for joining us. up next, the "hardball" round table, we'll get perspective on the topics we've covered tonight. plus dramatic new threats, including americans who fought for isis and are now back in the u.s.
welcome back to "hardball." americans who fought for isis have now returned to the u.s. this is a frightening warning for many of us delivered in a background briefing. "time" magazine reports some americans fighting with terror groups have returned to the u.s. this was the first government confirmation that americans fighting alongside isis had come back home. among us. lawmakers made clear last week they rejected military intervention. take for instance, west virginia senator joe manchin. here he is. >> we took out saddam. thought that would change. iraq's in worse shape. we took out gadhafi, got so bad in libya, we've had to pull out. i'm not supporting in any way shape or form assad, think he should be gone. but as long as he's able to remain there, he's fighting the same people that we're trying to fight and spending $500 million. makes no sense to me and i can't sell it.
you can't sell this stuff. >> rand paul from kentucky is making all the moves as a 2016 presidential candidate. said arming syrian rebels was a stepping stone to americans in combat. >> as isis grows stronger or they're not quelled by sending arms to feckless allies in syria, then what happens? then they come back again and again. there's already the drum beat. there's already those in both parties who insist that we must have american gis on the ground. i'm not sending any american soldiers. i'm not sending your son, your daughter, or mine over to the middle of that chaos. >> joining me now at the "hardball" round table, jonathan capehart, michelle bernhard, and zeke miller of "time" magazine who wrote the article i just read from. zeke, let's talk about the threat at home here as part of this thing.
most americans are basically start as isolationists. it's our country, great big country, nobody wants to live anywhere else. they like it here and they wonder why we're always getting dragged into european wars or asian wars. we usually know why, but we don't like it. is the president going to have to keep putting this stuff out, coaxing this information to us through the media that we have a threat here at home and that's why we got to fight there? >> i think if you look back in the past two months, starting with the yazidi crisis, with the president talking in terms about the people stranded on the mountain, followed by protecting u.s. personnel -- >> the christians? >> exactly. we've seen this slow build-up, teasing to the american people, what they would support. now you support strikes to protect this population and that population. now it's coming home. the president escalating, the white house saying that some folks who fought alongside isis
and other extremist groups in syria and iraq have come back to the united states. that's the first time they said that. and that came hours before the strikes last night. >> a connection? >> definitely a connection here as they're trying to keep people engaged. >> jonathan, did you get any whiff of what was going to happen in the last 24 hours? >> no. >> it was secret. >> yeah. >> now bombers are going, fighter planes, b 52s, tomahawks and we have five allies in the field with us. >> again, this is something the president has been telegraphing for the last few weeks now, that whole -- when congress was in town for the last couple days -- >> couple hours. >> -- and avoiding taking any kind of serious vote and saying to the president you're authorized to do whatever it is you want to do. we were surprised that the united states hit syria last night. the president even told us in the primetime address that it will strike in iraq and if i need to, go into syria. so he's been telegraphing these things. i also think how turkey was able
to get out about 15 or 20 hostages from isis, also cleared the way for some action to happen. so, yes, i was -- >> you mean they wouldn't execute them? >> right. >> but also made us suspect turkey had cut a deal? releasing a bunch of isis people or whatever, some kind of trade-swap, some prisoner swap? >> i'm not sure what turkey did to get its people out, but whatever it was, i think made it possible for turkey to help in some way, but also for the united states to move forward in what it did last night. >> nothing arrests our attention like the beheadings. biggest news story in five years, according to nbc-wall street journal polling. everybody can't imagine sitting in the desert, counting your minutes until you have your head cut off. we know it's only happening to them because they're american. he's an american. so that was a street-corner threat to us. >> absolutely. >> i think that was more of an
arresting kind of emotion than the fear you might be one of the americans caught in a dirty bomb. although this new airplane bomber scares me a lot too. because we fly a lot in this business. nobody wants to be on a plane when somebody has the extra fluids than they're supposed to. >> i think for a large part of the american public the beheadings sort of lent a little bit more credence to what president obama has done. i wasn't surprised this came at pull. you saw it coming during the testimony last week. the threats have been bubbling up, getting worse. i thought to myself, when is he going to act? it's about time that we actual do something. if you think about 9/11, 2001, the threats never went away. we've sort of been living in la la land -- >> we never know because they keep secret a lot of the successful interventions. >> exactly. >> when they catch somebody, they don't announce it all over the place. but if we bomb allot, are they
going to start beheading women, nuns, whoever they can get their hands on? >> the u.s. government is being secretive in terms of what we believe is being held by isis -- >> aren't there americans over there and you can always grab somebody, the hitchhikers? >> you have the thrill seekers, but this area has been in conflict. and there are fewer there than ever before. >> missionaries? >> missionaries and journalists, trying to sell the stories of the people who are being impacted by this terrible crisis and the violence there. those are the folks still on the ground. a lot of them have been pulled back. >> is only the sheer numbers stopping people from beheading? won't they behead anybody they can get their hands on? seems like they do. >> seems like that's what they do. it's a rather savage way to die. it's a very arresting image to
see them clad in orange with some fellow standing next to them, knowing what's coming and with a knife to their throat. but i have the sense that the administration and the president, keep in mind, a president who campaigned on withdrawing from two wars, who won a nobel peace prize with the promise of bringing peace to the world. he doesn't want to go to war. >> nobody wants to go to war. >> but the point i'm trying to make here, the president said in his speech that, oh, we might have to also strike into syria. last night the united states strikes into syria and announces that we took out the khorasans, this group no one had ever heard of -- >> they're an al qaeda group. >> -- until last night. there's some information that he has, that the administration has that they feel that they have to strike and do something now before something more serious happens.
>> are we in a war now or not? it sounds like we're not now from you. we're not on the ground. we don't have allies on the ground. >> we're on the ground in iraq. we have troops in iraq. >> trainers. >> because we have been asked. you can call them trainers or whatever, but the bottom line is, we have boots on the ground in iraq. we probably at some point in time are going to have to have boots on the ground in syria. the demographics don't matter. the most important demographic, are you american? they don't like our way of life. they didn't go away after 9/11. the war is not over until the enemy says it's over. they keep coming back. they're not going away. >> there's 300 million arabs and a billion islamic people, when you say they -- >> when i talk about isis, al qaeda, when we talk about islamic extremists who hate the way of life that americans and the people in the west lead, we are constantly in danger, because they haven't given up, they keep coming back.
>> we'll be right back, and talk about how come you can get into the white house so easily, without a pass, just jump the fence. suppose isis decides to send a half dozen guys over the fence. today they established a ten-foot buffer zone. this is getting more like east berlin, the wall. unfortunately that's what happens. with the terrible success of terrorism, it makes us circle our lives in a way that we're a lot less free. anyway, this is "hardball," the place for politics. you know, millions of people have saved with progressive, so i get invited to quite a few family gatherings. heck, i saved judith here a fortune with discounts like safe driver, multi-car, paperless. you make a mighty fine missus, m'lady. i'm not saying mark's thrifty. let's just say, i saved him $519, and it certainly didn't go toward that ring. am i right? [ laughs ] [ dance music playing ] so visit progressive.com today. i call this one "the robox."
osama bin laden's son-in-law has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in a terrorism case. the terror leader's son-in-law was sentenced by a judge in new york this morning. he'd been convicted in march for conspiring to kill americans. he was also the spokesman for al qaeda following the september 11th attacks. appearing in recruitment videos for the terrorist organization. we'll be right back.
welcome back to "hardball." back from the round table, that was president obama reasserting his confidence in the secret service. there it is again. leaves many questioning the state of our security here at home because he's the most protected guy in the country. authorities are continuing their investigation into how a man carrying a knife sprinted across the white house lawn and through the front door without being stopped. thank you all for being here. you first. do you think people are putting this together? we're talking about isis chopping somebody's head often around the united states. the president of the yiet united states, in that very moment, some guy able to just leap over this fence, ends up in the north portico.
they're thinking, hey, they can make that run. >> they've got to be thinking. they didn't have too much difficulty flying into the world trade center, it can't be too difficult to get into the white house. this is really a national embarrassment for the country and the c.i.a. i don't understand how that happens. what would have happened if he had been successful and the president or any member of his family would have been in the white house? or if he had been wearing a bomb? frankly, i don't understand how this happens here, in washington, d.c. at the white house. >> he just takes charge. everybody is cheering him in the theater. i don't mind people talking in those theaters. but it was really starring about how they came in. >> right. but leave aside the isis threat. just the idea that the most protected house in the country, the most protected person and family in the country, and that
fence, a person can just jump over that fence and make their way into the house. imagine how you would feel if you found out that an intruder hopped your fence and was inside your house? >> if you were the president. i don't have a fence but -- here's my question. if you're sane, i'm not sure this guy was. i think he has some emotional problems. if you're sane, you're thinking that bullet is going to come right back at you. you can feel it coming at you, you know what i mean? >> yeah, but -- >> he didn't feel that. >> he didn't feel that probably because he had some sort of mental issues. but to play devil's advocate, look at -- this is the people's house. the secret service, if they wanted to, can turn the white house into ft. knox. you'd see it on tv. you'd watch the welcome to washington video. you wouldn't even enter the district. >> okay. should we be able to drive down pennsylvania avenue and wave at the president like we used to do on the 33 bus?
>> i think the front doors to the white house should be locked in an era where we have the first african american president in this country, he should be extra safe. >> how about the principle. should you be able to drive past the white house and look at him? >> yes. but you shouldn't be able to walk through the front door. >> yes, but if someone's climbing the fence, the secret service should be getting that person at the fence. >> i remember for the nixon days, you would blow your horn if you wanted him to resign, which is a wonderfully lower deed democratic potential. >> i'm not sure pennsylvania avenue, the fact that you can walk up to that fence is great. the buffer zone is splitting the difference. they're not keeping everybody back 200 feet from the fence. >> you wouldn't let traffic go through there again would you? >> they closed it off after the beirut bombings. this is a dangerous world. we don't want to take any risks. let people go up, maybe if you
have to screen people a little bit further back. but let them get a view of the white house. thousands of people go through that building almost every day for tourism. that's good. >> give the secret service the resources, the personnel to do the job. >> well, we've got to agree. they shouldn't be doing what they're doing now. that picture is going to be played around the world. anyway, thank you. jonathan, michelle, thank you. we'll be right back.
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let me finish tonight with a topic up tonight and many days to come. should we be in this war against isis. as the. c.i.a. agent said in charlie wilson's war, we'll see. we'll see if we can bring this terrorist group down and degrade it and eventually destroy it. we'll see if we can weather the horror to come in this war that has already included public beheadings of two nent americans. it's always good to imagine whatever alternative we've had here. could the united states let this go on, this public assault? could we have done that? could we have simply stand as a country or stood and let this be done to us? or could we have simply bombed them for a few days punishing them for the act of those beheadings. now we're really in it and for good. this is going to last years. that's if we and our allies are
actually successful. who knows where this will turn if we're not. and that, my fellow americans, is probably the best argument for doing what president obama is doing. if we let isis grow, there's no telling how much hell it will bring on this world. that's "hardball" for now. "all in" with chris hayes starts right now. >> tonight, on "all in," the first wave of air strikes inside syria. the u.s. building a coalition that includes five arab nations. >> we now have an opportunity to send a very clear message that the world is united. >> primary target? isis. >> we're going to do what's necessary to take this fight to the group. >> we'll look at just who the corasang group is and just how long could this new war last. then, renewed calls for re